March 19, 2018
Loyalty is a character trait that is honored by almost every culture. But consider this, there is a difference between being loyal to a deserving person, cause, or organization which truly deserves loyalty and one that does not. The dictionary definition of loyalty, (unswerving in allegiance, faithful to someone or some cause to whom it is due) implies that what you are loyal to should be deserving of your loyalty. Think of the people, organizations, teams, or causes, to which you are (or have been) loyal to. Are all of them deserving of your loyalty? The truth is, we honor those who are faithful to us, but none of us likes to be let down or betrayed.
In John 13 Jesus is speaking with his disciples at supper about what is going to happen to him and the fact that he would be betrayed by one of them. Verse 21 says, “After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth one of you is going to betray me.” The passage says that Jesus was “troubled in spirit.” The kinds of emotions this phrase was describing are not unlike feelings you and I might have if we felt betrayed by a friend. We might describe our feelings as sadness, dismay, discouragement, being abandoned and all alone, or maybe just feeling like “how could someone do that to us?” Judas had been with Jesus three years, following Him, watching the miracles, listening to the teachings. How he was able to turn and betray Jesus was maybe the result of a cynical attitude he had held the entire time he had been with Jesus, or maybe he refused to believe in who Jesus really was, or maybe he saw the occasional pettiness of the other disciples who were arguing among themselves about who was the greatest disciple. We know Judas had a love for money and maybe that superseded his love for Jesus. The Bible also tells us that he was influenced by Satan. No matter what happened to Judas, what happened to him should cause us to stop and ask ourselves, in what ways can believers today betray Jesus and could this happen in someone’s life who has been following and serving Jesus? I’m not talking about a believer losing their salvation, but I am referring to someone who is not allowing Jesus to have first place in their life. I believe this can happen to any believer if they place more importance on material things or personal pleasures than focusing on what Jesus has done for them. It is possible for any of us to feel disillusioned by actions of other people we look up to. The danger for us is that Satan wants to convince us that the way our lives have turned out is not fair and we deserve more than what we have. He wants to convince us that following and serving Jesus is not worth it, and if he does, it can result in disobedience and rebellion in our lives.
As we approach the coming Easter season, it would be good for each of us to ask ourselves the question, “Is Jesus hurt and troubled when and if we turn away from Him and are led down the path of rebellion?” I believe that there is no doubt that we hurt our Lord and cause Him to be “troubled in spirit” when we choose to be disloyal or stray away. When we are disloyal to Jesus, we are not unlike the child that breaks the heart of a parent. Unfortunately, sometimes the people Jesus has done the most for, turn away from Him, and this surely grieves Him.
What specific things can we do to avoid falling into Satan’s trap of temptation to betray Jesus? We need to pursue that one-on-one relationship with Jesus that comes from studying His Word and spending time in prayer with Him. We need to continue to be in awe of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Every day we need to commit to place Jesus on the throne of our life. We need to be sensitive to His warnings, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, about things that will harm us and cause us to stray away from Him. We need to tell Him our feelings, our discouragement, and our inability to deal with our daily problems. The fact is, Jesus already knows these things, but telling Him is confession, or agreeing with Him that our own personal abilities are insufficient. We know that His power is sufficient for all of our needs, but we do need to soberly think of what happened with Judas and not allow our hearts to grow hard toward Christ.
The reality of Easter is not only that Jesus bodily rose from the dead, but that there is a risen Christ waiting to meet us in a new form, ahead of us. Because of who He is and what He has done, we don’t have to depend on, or live in the past. There is a brand new day for us of growing beyond the assurance that we have a home in heaven. We must realize the great call for us to take the Good News of the Gospel to the whole world and to tell others about their need for salvation and the provision God has made for them through the living Jesus. Because of what He did for us on the cross of Calvary, Jesus deserves our loyalty. May we be faithful to Him and demonstrate true loyalty to the One who has proven to be most deserving of our trust.